Things I am passionate about. Injustice, stupidity, intolerance, bigotry and small-mindedness. Oh and there might just be some humor to offset the whole thing.

Use of Heartburn Drugs Surges in Young Children

Posted by morganwrites on October 16, 2007

This article from AP should make you sit-up, or is that spit-up?

CHICAGO – The number of young children on prescription drugs for heartburn and other digestive problems jumped about 56 percent in recent years and researchers say obesity and overuse might be contributing to the surprising increase.

The surge was found in a Medco Health Solutions Inc. analysis released on Oct. 4, 2007 of U.S. prescription data for 2002-2006. It suggests that more than 2 million U.S. children 18 and under used drugs for digestive or gastrointestinal complaints last year.

“It’s a signal that something’s going on that we need to keep and eye on,” said Dr. Robert Epstein, Medco’s chief medical officer. “Whether it’s parents getting their children diagnosed more frequently, or obesity or other factors, it bears further study,” he said.

Researchers at Medco, a pharmacy benefits management company based in Franklin Lakes, N.J., analyzed prescription drug claims of more that 575,000 U.S. children.

They calculated that 557,259 infants and children up to age 4, or about 3 percent of youngsters in that age range, were taking these drugs last year. That’s about a 56 percent increase from 2002.

There was a 31 percent increase among children aged 5 to 11, climbing to an estimated 551,653 children, or 2 percent in that age group in 2006, the analysis found.

Almost 1 million children aged 12 to 18 had prescriptions for the drugs last year, but that was up only 6 percent over 2002.

Acid-reducing drugs called proton pump inhibitors are the most common medicines prescribed for GI problems, the analysis said. They are used for acid reflux associated with heartburn, and a related condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD.

Some of these, including Prevacid, were approved for use in children during the study period, which likely also contributed to the prescription surge, said Dr. Benjamin Gold, an Emory University specialist in children’s digestive diseases. (Emory University is in Atlanta, GA. and is one of the most acclaimed institutions in America).

Heartburn is a common complication of being overweight and the surge happened during the nation’s rising obesity epidemic, said Dr. Renee Jenkins, president-elect of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She noted that more than 10 percent of U.S. preschoolers and 30 percent of older children are considered overweight.

Gold said there’s no hard data on how many children have acid reflux or GERD. But there’s some evidence that the numbers are rising, and obesity could be playing a role.

Heartburn and acid reflux are also extremely common in infants and young children. Many of them outgrow it and drug treatment often isn’t needed, so the increase raises concerns about whether these drugs are sometimes being used unnecessarily, said Jenkins, a Howard University pediatrics professor.

While some children do require treatment including prescription drugs, many get better with no treatment or lifestyle changes such as smaller, more frequent meals or cutting down on fatty foods, she said.

Still, parents increasingly are demanding that doctors prescribe medicine for reflux, in part because of direct-to-consumer marketing, Gold said. But also, symptoms including frequent spitting up, irritability and stomach aches are troublesome and many parents prefer a quick fix, he said.

Gold said reflux drugs are generally safe but there is some evidence linking long-term use with an increased risk of infections including pneumonia and bowel inflammation.

To avoid overuse, Jenkins said parents should be willing to try non-drug approaches for treating reflux and other digestive problems in young children.

Isn’t this just insane? Children under the age of 4 on prescription drugs due to acid reflux! What do you think is causing this malady? Rhetorical. I blame this whole issue on parents who are so caught up in their own crap, that they don’t take time to prepare good, wholesome meals and feed their children via the drive-thru nor do they teach their children a proper eating regime. Have you seen the commercial wherein a mother tells her family (2 kids one father) that they’re going to have a good old fashioned home cooked meal tonight – the father and children get this glassy eyed look in their eyes in anticipation of this rare occasion, and mom then whips out a bucket of KFC with mashed potatoes, gravy and biscuits. No greens, no fruit, no milk, no grains, no brains. In addition to this story, pediatricians have noticed a rise in irritable bowel syndrome in children under the ages of 18. It seems that parents are giving their children, as young as 1 years of age, enemas to help them with their elimination, and they’re repeating the process so often that the procedure has weakened the musculature of the intestines and thereby reducing the ability of the intestines to do the job that they were intended for and because of this lack of ability, by the intestines, they need to resort to – repeating the enema routine. How’s that for proper parenting!


5 Responses to “Use of Heartburn Drugs Surges in Young Children”

  1. shinade said

    Kudos for you on this article. I am of the generation that raised our children the old fashion way. Acid Reflux was merely considered colic and the remedy was simple. You got up out of bed and walked the floor to comfort your child. yes I lost a lot of sleep but I prefer that over giving prescription drugs simply because a child is a little collicky.

    As a matter of fact the rise in usage of prescription drugs all cross the board in children frightens me. Just exactly what will be the long term effect? I guess we will all just have to wait and see the outcome.

    But, the doctors and the drug companies certainly aren’t suffering from this escalade now are they?

  2. Shinade – Thanks for the comment. Isn’t it amazing that drug companies come up with drugs for simple symptoms that children and adults have – such as colic, which needs no drug intervention. Bah! You’re right, it is a little scary – reminds me of Grace Slick – “one pill makes you larger and one pill makes you small”. Today everyone wants immediate cures, meals, etc. They don’t take time to smell the roses. How sad.
    And yes, shame on the pharmas and the the ‘doctors’ who push the pills – shouldn’t it be called the hypocritic oath?

  3. Raena said

    I am a stay-at-home mom of an 7 month old with severe GERD(acid reflux). I am not as you say “caught up in my own crap”, I have a husband who works we are vegatarian, thin and very healthy and active. I prepare all meals for the family, I use fresh fruit and vegatables for my infant that I steam and puree for her. Besides God she is the number one focus in my life. I am not one to run to the doctor for medications, I rarely believe pharmacutical ads, I believe in holistic healing. But when all else failed with my child I put her on meds so she could sleep,eat,swallow as normally as possible. Without the meds she would be half the size she is today, because she would only be capable of eating half of what she does now. She is a healthy baby girl weighing over 17lbs.

  4. Raena – Kudos to you for taking care of yourself as well as the rest of the family. May your daughter grow up to be as wise as her mother.

  5. Raena said

    Thank you Morgan.

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